Cardinal Nest

Apr 29, 2007 by Janine |
Our resident cardinal pair have decided to nest right outside my bedroom window, on top of our gazebo. We think the eggs are due to hatch next weekend. This is the best view I can get of her, so I doubt I will get good photos of the nestlings. But I hope to be able to watch them grow up and fledge.

the nest
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis Female


Corkscrew Swamp

Apr 28, 2007 by Janine |
We are in one of the worst droughts on record here in South Florida.

From SunSentinel.com: (Link to full article).

"Officer Chuck Erismann, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,
said people should be aware alligators might head to deeper canals and lakes near
populated areas because their own habitat is getting too dry. He said parents of
small children shouldn't leave them unattended near lakes and canals because
of the potential risk. "It presents safety issues that require people to be more
vigilant with their kids and be more aware of their surroundings," Erismann said."


Alligators are on the move, everybody panic!
So I wonder if the media is gearing up for another "gator frenzy" like last year. "Summer of the Shark" can't be too far behind.

In related news, Corkscrew Swamp in the southwest part of the state is in terrible condition. Most of the cypress forest is high and dry, with only a pitifully small pool of stinking water, in which several gators and wading birds wait for the rain.

stinky mud
Footsteps in the Mud

But there is new life too. This white-eyed vireo has built its nest near the boardwalk trail. I hope I can get back over there to check on it in a couple of weeks.

staring contest
White-eyed vireo Vireo griseus


Another trip to the nu-cular plant

Apr 27, 2007 by Janine |
Did some wildlife monitoring at the seagrass lagoon at Turkey Point power plant. If you are interested in the plant, you can read about it here.



puffer scene
Checkered Puffer Sphoeroides testudineus

young'un
Mangrove Snapper Juvenile Lutjanus griseus

There were several large adult mangrove snappers that followed us around as we walked the edge of the lagoon. And there were millions of checkered puffers. Did not see many barracuda or needlefish this time around, I usually see tons of them.
Birds were pretty scarce too, which was surprising. I saw a common nighthawk, a prairie warbler, and some pelicans.

Painted Buntings

Apr 26, 2007 by Janine |
I thought this place needed some brightening up so here are some cheery Painted Buntings:


Painted Bunting Passerina ciris Male and Female


Painted Bunting Passerina ciris Male


Painted Bunting Passerina ciris Female

Ft. Pierce

Apr 24, 2007 by Janine |
Here is what's left of a plecostomus catfish, a common freshwater aquarium fish. They are typically sold as small 4"-6" long cleaner fish, but will quickly exceed 2' in length. Many owners release them into the local waterways when they outgrow their tanks. This is just one of numerous exotic fish that inhabit Florida waters.

crispy pleco
Plecostomus catfish, Hypostomus plecostomus.

And here is a picture of the beach. I was working nearby and thought I'd get some fresh sea air. All I got was boots full of sand.

beach
Caution: No Lifeguard on Duty

Goodbye friend

Apr 23, 2007 by Janine |
We will miss you, Boo.





Mocker Courage

Apr 21, 2007 by Janine |
I am always amazed by the bravery of small birds when they mob birds of prey. Now mockingbirds are pretty fearless in general, but I was still impressed by how brazen this one was.

incoming
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos and Red Shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus

take that, mofo
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos and Red Shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus

And here is another new visitor to the garden, a common myna. These birds are becoming more and more common throughout south Florida, often found nesting in shopping centers.

o rly?
Common myna Acridotheres tristis

Friday...

Apr 20, 2007 by Janine |
Its been a terrible week. Time for some R&R!
what do alligators dream of?

Naples

Apr 18, 2007 by Janine |
I had a meeting in Naples this morning. Had to drive through some heavy smoke on Alligator Alley- the main highway connecting Ft. Lauderdale and Naples. It was pretty bad, there were spots where I could see maybe 10 feet in front of me. There have been large brush fires burning since last week, and they have had to close the highway down a few times. It should have been closed this morning too, I think.
Anyway, I got across the Everglades in one piece, and its a good thing too. Because I was able to take this photo:

someday you too will reach these photographic heights
The Best Photo. Of a Fox Squirrel. Ever.
Fox Squirrel Sciurus niger

And here's the pretty cypress forest that I was walking through.

cypress

And here is an article I saw on CBS 4 News/ today:

State Is Trying To Regulate Non-Native Reptiles In Florida

(Tallahassee, FL) -- Burmese Pythons are beautiful snakes, often coming in yellow, which make some people want them as pets. If you want one in the Sunshine State you may soon have to pay a permit fee. The "Miami Herald, reports that bills in the Legislature would require the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to mandate permits and fees from owners of certain reptiles. The state is trying to increase it's power to regulate snakes such as Burmese pythons, which have invaded the Everglades by the thousands and are preying on native wildlife. If the bills pass, owners of large pythons, green anacondas and Nile monitor lizards would have to get permits, inspections and pay the state 100-dollars a year. A new rule that goes into effect in 2008, manadates that ''reptiles of concern'' must have a microchip implanted under the skin so wildlife officers can match pet and owner if the animals are lost or let loose.<


Still dreaming of that Florida vacation?


Everglades Part 2

Apr 16, 2007 by Janine |
After the osprey excitement, I visited Eco Pond. It was severely damaged by the 2005 hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. The winds and storm surge decimated most of the vegetation surrounding the pond, and the saltwater shock killed off most of what was left. The storms also destroyed the observation deck and much of the pond's perimeter fence/guardrail. Although I miss the deck, the fence being gone means closer access to the water and easier wading bird photography. It was getting late in the evening and I had the place to myself. I sat on the only surviving bench and enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Yellowlegs
Lesser yellowlegs Tringa flavipes

Shoveler
Northern shoveler Anas clypeata

As I made my way back north, I decided I wanted to watch the sunset. In my case watch= take about a hundred photos. So I took the road to Mahogany Hammock and found a suitable spot. It was so serene, only two or three cars passed in the hour I was there. I took my time setting up the tripod in my truck bed and just sat and enjoyed the stillness until the sun approached the horizon. It was cool and breezy and I only got molested by one deer fly. Bliss.
Here is one of the multitude of sunset shots. You can see more in my gallery.

nite-nite

Everglades Part One

Apr 15, 2007 by Janine |
Last week was pretty stressful so I went to Everglades National Park yesterday to unwind. It was beautiful. Now I said that it wasn't going to be a "photography trip" and it was strictly for relaxation purposes, yet I said this as I packed up pretty much every piece of camera gear that I own. So off I went, and to prove that it was not a photo trip I skipped the Anhinga trail (renowned by photographers the world over as the place for wading bird pics) and instead stopped at Pa-hay-okee, where I knew there would be no wildlife. To ensure this, I carried the D70 with the landscape lens (18-70mm) over one shoulder and the D200 with wildlife lens (50-500mm) over the other. To help me relax.

See, no wildlife here

Next stop Flamingo. Flamingo is the end of the road, 38 miles southwest of the main visitor center.
I checked the marina for crocodiles and only spotted one, skulking in the mangroves. So I was walking along the docks, minding my own business, when I hear a huge racket and an osprey comes flying in with a decapitated fish. The noise was coming from a hungry fledgling waiting on the ground near the fish cleaning station (aptly enough). The ruckus attracted a hungry Great Blue Heron who is featured in my photo below.

Law abiding birds, they read the sign.

So the parent drops the fish and the fledgling grabs it and flies off with it- directly toward me! I'm snapping away and duck out of the way at the last minute as it whizzes by and into the trees behind me. It goes without saying that none of these pictures will be in focus. Then, as I'm watching the adult ospreys soaring overhead and next thing I know I hear the frenzied calls of the young osprey again, right behind me! I barely managed to drop to a crouch in time as I felt the whoosh of its wingbeats over my shoulder and smelled the perfume of bloody dead fish. The men at the boat launch and fish cleaning station erupted into laughter at this. Finally the fledgling alighted in a tree and started to eat its meal.
Tasty dinner

To be continued...

Ani and Waxwings

Apr 12, 2007 by Janine |
I had some interesting visitors to the garden today.
The first was a lone Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani), a member of the cuckoo family. While not endangered, these birds have become difficult to find in Florida. There are a few reliable locations, one of which is Ft. Lauderdale International Airport in Broward county, where the "Airport Anis" can be seen perching on the perimeter fence. There are other good spots; at Loxahatchee NWR in Palm Beach county and Florida City in Miami-Dade county.
None of these locations is near to my house though. It is also unusual to see a solitary bird, as they are a gregarious species and will even share a communal nest.
The ani was in my yard but when I came out with my camera he flew over to my neighbors. Luckily I have a long lens!



Later in the day, a flock of cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) decided to roost in my gumbo limbo tree. This picture only shows about a quarter of them.

Crab

Apr 10, 2007 by Janine |
Went to the Nu-cular plant to do some seagrass monitoring. Didnt see any crocodiles but saw machine gun guys and a reddish egret. And tons of blue crabs.
I'm in ur lagoon, scavenging ur detritus
The illustrious blue crab (Callinectes sapidus). From the Greek calli="beautiful", nectes="swimmer", and Latin sapidus="savory")

April is the cruellest month

Apr 09, 2007 by Janine |
Breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.
The inevitable pretentiousness.
I like to read T.S. Eliot so there will probably be bits of his poetry here from time to time.
Here's one of those pesky brown anoles. They are easy to catch when they are indoors, cold, and sluggish.
Anole Finger

This chrysalis looks like a spinal column and half a pelvis. To me, anyway.
What does it look like to you?
Sad little skeleton
Ok did some research and its actually a Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae chrysalis. And not some miniscule grisly remains.
Oh well.

Easter (Swamp) Rabbit

Apr 08, 2007 by Janine |
Sylvilagus aquaticus, as seen from my bedroom window.
Buddha approves

Easter

Apr 08, 2007 by Janine |
Its been a quiet and relaxing weekend. Nice and cool and sunny outside. Saw lots of birds in the garden:
blue jay
gray catbird
northern mockingbird
common grackle
boat tailed grackle
redwing blackbird
painted bunting
cedar waxwing
carolina wren
northern cardinal
mourning dove
white wing dove
pigeon
collared dove
brown headed cowbird
monk parakeet
So I chilled out, took some pictures, and did some chores. Got some family stuff going on later.
My Easter Present:
Happy Easter

Ancient Ocean

Apr 06, 2007 by Janine |
A few months ago, one of the guys at work brought me a fossilized sand dollar from the site he was excavating. Today he brought me some calcite and coral from the same site.
I was going to go into a lengthy discussion of Florida's geologic history- but I am getting distracted by my new moo cards. Oh and there was a male Painted Bunting at the birdfeeder this evening, with two females.




Dead Blackberry

Apr 05, 2007 by Janine |
My work blackberry broke today. Well, actually it broke yesterday. I was wondering why I was having such a peaceful afternoon yesterday, no phone calls, no emails. Anyway I went in to the phone place this morning and it was so broke they had to replace it. Emails still not working, what a mess.
So this week I have cooled off a big regarding the copyright issue. I think I am going to rework the watermarking on the images. I am not happy with the way it is now. I think I will tone down the rant on the main gallery page as well. There's no point in dwelling on the negative, best to move on.
Now, to lighten the mood, here's a scene from last week. I'm just minding my own buisness, driving around one of our work sites, when I am confronted with:Swamp Cattle

Kingsnake and Holey Land

Apr 04, 2007 by Janine |
While gardening this weekend I noticed a Florida Kingsnake in the yard. Of course he was caught and examined. I wonder how he got here, as my area is too wet/swampy for Kingsnakes. Seemed in good condition except for a few lacerations, perhaps an escaped pet. He will be released to a more suitable habitat.
Pity. Would have liked to keep him around, he's a beautiful snake. He might have kept the cottonmouth population down. Not that I mind having those around either, but I worry about the clueless neighbors.
Went out to Holey Land Wildlife Management Area today to check on some work being done. Some brushfires were moving through the area, didn't see much wildlife out there. Saw a few rough green snakes, the obligatory everglades racer, and a few gators in the canals. It is one of the few places that I can count on seeing Common Ground Dove- they seem to be in decline.

Florida Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula floridana)

Anoles

Apr 02, 2007 by Janine |
I have a group of "pet" anoles that I feed mealworms to. They live in the gazebo and are quite friendly. They are native green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) and unfortunately are quite rare due to competition from the introduced brown anole (Anolis sangrei). Not only do the brown anoles compete for food and territory, they have also been known to prey on hatchling green anoles. I have not observed this but I do notice that the brown anoles are extremely aggressive. I have thought about starting a relocation program and capturing the largest and most aggressive brown anoles and transporting them away from here. But, 1. its illegal to release non native species, and 2. it would probably be pointless anyway, there are simply too many of them.

Green Anole

Introduction

Apr 01, 2007 by Janine |
Hi, my name is Janine. I am a biologist and work in wetland construction.
I am also an aspiring photographer. Most of the pictures I share here will be snapshots from my daily travels- I'm on the road a lot visiting numerous job sites across south Florida. My gallery displays my best and favorite photos, although I will post those here occasionally too.